WASHINGTON – Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has declared that he will work tirelessly to free Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor jailed in Iran for his Christian faith.
In a speech Friday morning before a large crowd at the Values Voters Summit, Paul exclaimed that Americans, including himself and the federal government, should do their utmost to see that Abedini is freed.
"In Iran, American pastor Saeed Abedini is detained indefinitely, facing physical and psychological torture. They ask him to renounce his faith," said Paul. "I've introduced a resolution to the Senate that says and calls for and says we should do everything within our power, within our voice, from the White House, from the State Department, from our government to release Saeed Abedini."
Paul tied Abedini's plight to the situation for Christians throughout the Middle East, as Islamic extremists step up their attacks on Christian communities.
"Across the globe, Christians are under attack, almost as if we lived in the Middle Ages or if we lived under early Pagan Roman rule…It's almost as if that is happening again throughout the Middle East," said Paul.
"This administration does nothing to stop it. And it can be argued that they're giving aid and comfort to those who tolerate these crimes."
Paul's words of support for Abedini were delivered at the annual Values Voters Summit, which was held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel and features many prominent speakers. Sponsors for the multiday event include the Family Research Council, FRC Action, American Family Association, Americans Values, the Heritage Foundation, and the Liberty Counsel.
On Friday morning, in addition to Paul, other senators who addressed those in the Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham included Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Tim Scott of South Carolina.
In his speech, Paul spoke of the "war on Christianity" happening in many Muslim countries, driven by what he described as a significant minority.
The senator from Kentucky called for the United States to cease sending international aid to nations like Egypt and Pakistan until religious liberty for Christians is secured.
"We send billions of dollars to Egypt, to Pakistan. We've helped put new Islamic regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama now sends arms to Islamic rebels in Syria. In Egypt, the mob attacked our embassy, climbed on top of our embassy and burned our flag," said Paul.
"I don't know about you, but I've had enough. I say not one penny more to any country that would burn the American flag. We must work to ensure that our country, our policies, our tax dollars are on the side of ending this violence rather than encouraging those who perpetrate it."
Since being imprisoned for his faith, Abedini has received extensive support from around the world advocating for the pastor's release from prison. The American Center for Law and Justice has launched a letter writing campaign to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appealing to the leader's professed politically moderate views.
Paul's speech comes on the same day that the European Parliament adopted a resolution demanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran release Abedini.